January 13, 2008
CBS: 60 Minutes

Congo: War Against Women

by Michael Gavshon and Drew Magratten

Right now there's a war taking place in the heart of Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and more people have died there than in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Darfur combined.

You probably haven't heard much about it, but as CNN's Anderson Cooper reports, it's the deadliest conflict since World War II. Within the last ten years, more than four million people have died and the numbers keep rising.

As Cooper and a 60 Minutes team found when they went there a few months ago, the most frequent targets of this hidden war are women. It is, in fact, a war against women, and the weapon used to destroy them, their families and whole communities, is rape. . . .

To understand what is happening here, you have to go back more than a decade, when the genocide that claimed nearly a million lives in neighboring Rwanda spilled over into Congo. Since then, the Congolese army, foreign-backed rebels, and home-grown militias have been fighting each other over power and this land, which has some of the world's biggest deposits of gold, copper, diamonds, and tin. The United Nations was called in and today their mission is the largest peacekeeping operation in history.

Since 2005, some 17,000 UN troops and personnel have cobbled together a fragile peace. Last year they oversaw the first democratic election in this country in 40 years. But now all they have accomplished is at risk. Fighting has broken out once again in Eastern Congo and the region threatens to slip into all out war.

Each new battle is followed by pillaging and rape; entire communities are terrorized. Forced to flee their homes, people take whatever they can, and walk for miles in the desperate hope of finding food and shelter. Over the last year, more than 500,000 people have been uprooted. A fraction of them make it to cramped camps, where they depend on UN aid to survive. . . .


According to the CIA World Factbook, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other 10%. Christian or Christianity were not mentioned by CBS or CNN. Contrast this with their frequent mention of Muslim and Islam when covering majority Muslim states.

Enver Masud, "If Hutus And Tutsis Were Muslim Media Would Say So," The Wisdom Fund, December 10, 1996

Enver Masud, "Holocaust Remembrance Veils Criminal Policies," The Wisdom Fund, April 22, 2001

David Leigh and David Pallister, "The New Scramble For Africa," Guardian, June 1, 2005

Zack Pelta-Heller, "Flight of the Child Soldiers," AlterNet, May 19, 2006

[The National Team has three core tasks: to investigate the Presidential Guard members who murdered Rwanda's intelligentsia; to investigate the political and military leaders behind the extermination programs; and to investigate the plane crash that kills the two presidents and triggers the genocide.

The earliest and most widely held theory blames Hutu extremists for shooting down the plane, over anger at the peace talks between Hutu and Tutsi leaders in Arusha, Tanzania. But some point the finger at Tutsi rebel leader Paul Kagame, claiming he is upset by the progress of the talks and knows the upheaval sparked by the plane crash will legitimise his invasion and begin his march to power.

In 2000, Kagame becomes president. . . .

"I never realised that we may be compromising the investigation. I didn't understand the politics of the region. I didn't realise that Paul Kagame had been trained by the US, supported by the US. I thought that we were keeping the call discrete from the French and the Belgians. I never thought of the US. It was a blunder."--Nick McKenzie, "Uncovering Rwanda's secrets," The Age, February 10, 2007]

Robert Menard and Stephen Smith, "Darfur Needs Peace, Not Peacekeepers," Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2007

[ . . . the Democratic Republic of Congo (70% Christian) . . . has received a fraction of the media attention devoted to Darfur.--Roger Howard, "Where anti-Arab prejudice and oil make the difference," Guardian, May 16, 2007]

Craig Timberg, "Report: Congo's War and Aftermath Have Killed 5.4 Million," Washington Post, January 23, 2008

Chris McGreal, "War in Congo kills 45,000 people each month," Guardian, January 23, 2008

VIDEO: Corporations Reaping Millions as Congo Suffers Deadliest Conflict Since World War II,", January 23, 2008

[There are two stories about how this war began - the official story, and the true story. The official story is that after the Rwandan genocide, the Hutu mass murderers fled across the border into Congo. The Rwandan government chased after them. But it's a lie. How do we know? The Rwandan government didn't go to where the Hutu genocidaires were, at least not at first. They went to where Congo's natural resources were - and began to pillage them. They even told their troops to work with any Hutus they came across. Congo is the richest country in the world for gold, diamonds, coltan, cassiterite, and more. Everybody wanted a slice - so six other countries invaded.--Johann Hari, "How we fuel Africa's bloodiest war," Independent, October 30, 2008]

[ . . . the Bush administration was trying to do was to justify the militarization of Africa. In other words, the early seeds, the growth of AFRICOM. It wanted a reason, an excuse, to, if you like, secure Africa, primarily for its oil resources, the gradually increasing threat of China on the continent. . . . the war on terror provided just such a reason.--"British Anthropologist Jeremy Keenan on 'The Dark Sahara: America's War on Terror in Africa',", August 6, 2009]

Mark Tran, "Northern Congo civilians 'need urgent aid': Agency says rape, killing and child abduction rife and 40,000 people displaced as Lord's Resistance Army fights military," Guardian, October 15, 2009

[Congolese groups are financing themselves with minerals such as gold and the "three T's" - tin, tungsten and tantalum.--Mary Beth Sheridan, "U.S. financial reform bill also targets 'conflict minerals' from Congo," Washington Post, July 21, 2010]

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